“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice
Last week I had the pleasure to read “Longbourn Library” and before I post a review this week for this story, I wanted to invite Trudy Wallis to meet my Just Jane 1813 readers. Please feel free to pull up a chair and join us for a chat!
Today I’d like to introduce a new author to the JAFF community and to my Just Jane 1813 readers. Trudy Wallis has just published her very first modern JAFF story, which is titled “Longbourn Library.” Her story brings us to Idaho, where our favorite characters find themselves spending time with each other at the Longbourn Library.
Trudy, as a new JAFF author, I am sure you have a lot to share with us about your love for Austen and the steps you took from going from aspiring writer to a published writer. Would you share with us some of your own story and tell us about the person behind the writer?
I was that kid my teachers had to ask to put my book away and pay attention in class. I love books and certainly share many of the same feelings the Liz character has toward the written word. My love for books led me to both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English.
Please share with us the premise of your new book, “Longbourn Library.”
Liz is a librarian in the small Longbourn Library in rural Hertford, Idaho. Her dream was to meet an intelligent, single man in the library, but she has been sorely disappointed. Much of the action involves the ins-and-outs of the library, dealing with regular patrons such as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and the other librarians (Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia). Of course, it also deals with Liz confronting her own prejudices toward the snobbish Californian “aspiring writer” named Will Darcy who often visits the library.
I was impressed with the way Jane Austen often mentioned books and reading in her own books. As I spend a great deal of time at libraries, it was not a big stretch to reimagine Pride and Prejudice in a library setting. Once I decided Pemberley was the title of a book, I knew Darcy had to be the author. I learned a lot about the writing process as I was putting Longbourn Library together and so could relate to Darcy as well. Readers and writers seem to be an excellent match for one another. Also, as an Idahoan, I know too well the tension between the locals and the “outsiders,” which I relied on when deciding why Liz initially dismissed Darcy as an option.
I loved the way you infused quotes and characters from other well-known pieces of literature int your story. Can you tell us about your decision-making process in regards to selecting this quotes, characters, and poems?
I keep a notebook of quotes. Whenever I am reading, I write down sentences that particularly relate to me. Many of the quotes I used (from Dr. Zhivago, Room with a View, etc.) came from that notebook. When deciding which books to mention, I will admit I was quite self-indulgent. I mentioned many of my favorite books, such as Cold Comfort Farm and North and South, as well as my favorite writers, such as Ellen Glasgow and Peter Taylor. I thought of Jane Austen several times when reading The Odd Women, as she herself was “odd” in the sense that she never married and still managed to create a career for herself. Bringing up that book in a few places was a nod to her. When selecting the poetry, I chose some from the public domain that spoke to the situations of both Liz and Jane. Choosing which books and authors to mention was one of the most difficult parts of writing Longbourn Library because I wanted to talk about everything and everyone!
I am curious to know how you fell in love with books. Would you care to share your reading journey with us?
I grew up with parents who both loved to read. Our house was full of books and trips to the library were highlights in our rural life. Once I learned to read, I was unstoppable.
Why do think after 200 years, so many people are still reading Jane Austen’s books?
Jane Austen could explain with wit and grace what made a “good match.” She could convince a girl’s uncertain heart that what she really needs is a Mr. Darcy. Her characters are drawn so well they truly feel alive to us. Each of her books is a satisfying journey of growth and love. There is simply no author equal to Jane Austen when it comes to true romance.
Trudy, here’s the short-answer portion of this interview. Can you answer the following questions for my readers?
Favorite book of all-time? Persuasion. I carry a copy of it with me everywhere I go in the world. Just yesterday, I took a picture of it in Petra, Jordan. It has traveled with me to Taiwan, Korea, China, Egypt, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Saudi Arabia.
Favorite Austen hero? See “favorite novel” above. Captain Wentworth, of course!
What do you like to drink when you read? That would be Diet Pepsi.
Ereader or reader of paper-based books? I prefer paper books, of course, but I travel a lot as an ESL teacher and find the Kindle to be easier on the suitcase.
Buyer of books or borrower of books? Buyer, if it’s feasible. I like to highlight, underline, make notes.
What can readers do to support your work?
Since this is my first novel, feedback is appreciated. I’m just starting an adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, so I would like to avoid any major fumbles. I am learning as I go. Also, if someone enjoys Longbourn Library, a nice review on Amazon or Goodreads is encouraging.
Readers can connect with Trudy Wallis on Facebook.
Thank you, Trudy, for stopping by and chatting with me. I hope my readers enjoy “Longbourn Library!” Good luck with your new project too, which has a fan of “Sense & Sensibility,” such as myself, very excited for your next book!
I will post a review of “Longbourn Library” in the upcoming days.
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